DRY FEET. By Eduardo Martínez

February 1, 2017  By Ariana Reguant

Under the suspended aguacates

              Squatting on the milk crates borrowed from Sedanos

Bar-B-Que and tobacco

My father and his friend “Paco” from the island, who was missing a digit on his hand, and a few more on his understanding…

I would stand

              In the shade of the trees’ shadow, after a while, they would forget the city and let me sip the pissy wisdom from a miniature “Budweiser” can…

Red and White

              Cuban grenades

The same beer that vanished their fears temporarily and blew their ambition

The grave lot where my mother splotched her arthritic knees to whisper lullabies to my sister…

              Mario with the hair trigger temper that owned the barber shop, who spit the phlegm of the condemned and blended his talent with cocaine on the tip of a car key.

              I often wonder,

If the influence came…

Before “Chi-Chi” got the “Yeyo,”

Or after,

Scarface wore his collar open with a Cuban link.

“Al Pachino” played that role, you know… although I still think, that doesn’t make him

Cu-ban A-merican

And neither did the forced accent. Even though I must admit it was classic like the “Pinto” mami drove. The two-door the same color as the Vienna Sausages she would dice inside the yellow rice. “Don Francisco” on Saturday nights, the mockery of “Que pasa U.S.A.” they mistake for comedy.

              That program programmed an image, profiles filed in the perception of curious viewers.




Were the last two people my sister and I wanted to be compared to…

                             Or the kids in E.S.O.L. class I laughed at





                                                                        To change

                                                                                      My name…

              To a diction phonetically less Hispanic,

                                                                                      “Marco Rubio”?

I patented my adolescence

With a universal smile given with the tactical

Head nod…

              Cause even though I was Spanish,

                                                                        I didn’t speak Spanish…

                                                                                      At least not well, or in public but it’s been established that Cubans converse with their hands, like the body language my parents spoke when they danced salsa on New Year’s Eve.

              El grito


                                           Los pan con chorizo

                             El mal de ojo.

                                           Carne de pincho y calle ocho

                                                          Los guajitos cantando “Willie Chirino”…

              The Marielitos in the early eighties and the Miami riots…

                                           Minorities amongst minorities

Overwhelmingly over-running overtown

              Overturning the cultural stone dirt side up.

The aftereffects of a revolution




                                                          Of Fidel and Ché

Made oppression attributes, stains under the skin of eyelids. A lot of those men who came through el Mariel ended up in prison. There is a transition from communism to democracy that the camaraderie of hungry men find appealing to their appetite.

              Similar to the thirst of Bacardi that rode my uncles back like the Malboro man, lungs clinging like the two packs he’d smoke daily beneath the stirrups of his brow.

                                                                                      The same lungs,

              That held the breath of the brave and desperate who trekked and treaded the ninety miles of mishaps towards Key West Florida.

                             The same waters

                                                          My father and his brother swam

                                           The identical waters my mother flew over on Pan-Am in ‘67

                                                                                                                   The same waters

              That swallowed a Hermanos al Rescate

Plane that was shot down for flying over restricted air space.

              The S P A C E

Between Cuban and                     American…

                             The race

                                           My race

                                                          To the finish line

To survive… to strive for the sake of my mother’s commitment. The beautiful balance of her manicured hands and calloused palms. The grey that invaded my father’s scalp. The hairspray that keeps it in place like my mother’s strength…

                             The faith…

                                           The taste of coladas in Cuban cafés,

                             The horse race, cockfights, and Jai-Alai matinees

My aunt Lucy shouting “Bingo!”

              Jose pounding the double-nine on the domino table

                             My place of birth

                             Hialeah Hos-Pi-Tal

                             Located in Mi-A-Mi

              Certified Cu-Ban                            A-Me-Ri-Can

                             Different flavors and complexions, we seasoned the city…




Like the prideful humbleness distilled in me like whiskey. The back doors of our minds wide open to entwine

                                                                                                                                                                                           Dios Mio

                                                                                                                                                                             Mi Hijo



                                           Y Jesus Cristo sharing a cohiba

                            Smoke rings like halos over the heads submerged that weren’t able. The machete

                             That cut ties

                                                          That tied the                    gap

              But never the knot that locked us together

                                                                        Locked together

                                                                        In prison,

              With the same men who chanted

                            “Libertàd!”                       “Libertàd!”

              I see…   Cuba in their spirits,

              Spirits fading away slowly like coffee stains on guayaveras.

              The guayaba peach gums of Monica’s sweetest smile…

              My people                        are proud

                             My people                                      are loud.

My people don’t want to go back to Cuba. They’ve been where I haven’t and they’re content with remembrance…

                             They’re exiled

                                                          For me                to excel.

              Fidel                    is                          Dead.

              He died with fist gripped around a culture…

                             Who will pry his fingers loose?


                             I am CubanAmerican

              My Correctional identification labels me Caucasian,

                             And that bothers me…                 considering,

Jesus never walked on Cuban waters,

My family did,

And I thank them

For holding their breath so that I can

Breathe….                                                                                  Freely…

                                                                                                                                  Freedom questionable…

              Lame duck with fluttered feathers revoked the wet foot dry foot policy

                             Without                            Apology

              Now the S P A C E between

Cuban                                                                                         American

                             Is a galaxy

And,      I’m left asking,


              “Que pasa U.S.A.?”


This piece was facilitated by Kathie Klarreich, founder of Exchange for Change, a nonprofit that teaches writing courses in South Florida prisons where Mr. Martinez has been a student for the past several years. Exchange for Change aims to strengthen the voice of incarcerated writers and build bridges across the razor wire. In addition to its broad range of courses, including journalism, poetry and debate, E4C  also hosts exhibits and readings of its students inside and outside correctional facilities to create connections, and foster empathy. For more information, go to exchange-for-change.org  


COVER IMAGE: Mural in honor of the late Joe Stigale in Miami Springs, FL, by Hialeah artist Junk Lainez and his graffiti brothers (2016).


Eduardo Martínez

Eduardo Martinez was born in Miami, in 1979. He was raised in Carol City and has been writing most of his life. His muse is his wife, for whom he waited 16 years to marry. Now, like so many Cubans, he awaits a second chance in Life to return home one day.


That’s my husband 💋 who deserves to come home real soon. Upon his release I Raquel Martinez will be FREE too!!

    Raquel, your husband is an amazing writer. Thank you for the honor of publishing his writing. We hope to be able to publish a lot more of it.

      Thank you for the opportunity. Now people can hear my husbands voice and see his talent beyond the razor wire! People can see that not all inmates are bad or nobodies. I am a convicted felon myself and have been free for 11 years now and proud that I am one of the not so many that beat recidivism in Florida! Very hard to do when people love to remind you of it forever. So again, Thank you for looking beyond! Raquel Martinez

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